Jamie Vardy’s first-half display for Leicester City at home to Liverpool today once again reminds us why Gareth Southgate should be doing everything he can to have the striker on standby for this summer’s European Championships.
This column isn’t suggesting that Vardy should be a definite for the squad, but with Harry Kane’s fitness a continuing worry considering his ankle issues it would be reassuring for Southgate to know he could call on the Premier League’s most explosive English striker.
Vardy, injured for a few weeks but back in Brendan Rodger’s starting XI against Jurgen Klopp’s champions gave glimpses of everything that makes him so special – all that was missing was Alisson’s net bulging and Leicester being ahead.
Liverpool dominated possession in the first half at the King Power, but when you have Vardy that does not matter.
Klopp’s team failed to make possession count and as the half went on, Leicester threatened with the better chances falling to Vardy.
Granted, we were expecting Leicester to target Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ozan Kabak more than they did but initial Vardy’s chances did come from that area of the pitch. The first, he found himself on the shoulder of Liverpool’s debutant defender but ended up trying to lob Alisson from a tight angle.
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His second came from Alexander-Arnold being out of position, Harvey Barnes finding time and space to stand a cross up to the middle of the area and Vardy stealing into space between Jordan Henderson and Andrew Robertson – however, his header was straight at the keeper.
Vardy’s third chance could well have been called back by VAR had he scored – running in behind Henderson but hitting the bar with a blasted finish when maybe placement would have been better.
The final chance of the first-half came from a weak back-header from a back-peddling Henderson. The ball ran into the area and Vardy was there in a flash, but excellent keeping from Alisson prevented the striker being able to take it around Liverpool’s number one and slotting it home.
Should Vardy have scored one of these? Certainly the one that hit the bar which may well have been disallowed anyway – but that is not the point.
There will be games in the European Championships when England will play better sides and not have much of the ball – in these games, having Vardy available would be such a good option. He is wiser than Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood who all have pace to burn themselves. He is a better finisher than Raheem Sterling. You could fashion a way of both Vardy and Kane being in England’s starting XI much like Son partner’s the Tottenham man in the Premier League. And, if Kane is injured then who better to step in?
I’m not saying ignore the likes of Dominic Calvert Lewin who should also be in Southgate’s squad – but I’d be spending time trying to at least have Vardy as an option if Kane’s injuries return.